A recent Pew poll found that nearly 90 percent of Americans say they personally know someone who is lesbian, gay, or bisexual. However, multiple polls show that only around 20 percent of Americans say they personally know someone who is transgender. This means that most Americans learn about transgender people through film, television, news, and other media — so when transgender issues appear in the media, it is imperative they are represented correctly.
This Wednesday, May 19, at 5 p.m., the Higgins School of Humansities, in collaboration with the Screen Studies and Women’s and Gender Studies programs, will host “Trans Media and Its Futures,” a panel discussion examining the current state of transgender media as well as visions for its future. Screen Studies Professor Rox Samer (they/them) and representatives of Samer’s “Gender and Film” seminar will facilitate the discussion with three distinguished guests: artist and scholar micha cárdenas (she/her); artist and producer Zackary Drucker (she/her); and artist and filmmaker Chris E. Vargas (he/him). All three are leading artists working in the lush arena of trans media production. Together their work expands our sense of possibility for the future of trans media. Attendees are invited to check out their considerable bodies of work, available via their respective websites, YouTube, Amazon, and HBO Max.
This event will be broadcast live on Zoom. Participation is free and open to the public, but registration is required.
“While accuracy when it comes to trans representation is important, the study of trans-authored media and trans media studies also points to the value of approaching trans representation through a range of modes and genres, including those that exceed realism as its traditionally thought in cinema and media,” Samer says. “As trans film scholar Cáel Keegan writes in his book, ‘Sensing Transgender: Lana and Lilly Wachowski,’ ‘“Trans” describes an inherently subjunctive relation to what is considered real, to what can be commonly sensed.’ Science fiction and speculative media, like that of our panelists cárdenas, Drucker, and Vargas, craft trans imaginaries of our world and society as it could be. They also often use humor and comedy to do as much, revealing how, contrary to much popular trans discourse, trans life is teeming with joy. Trans people need not be the butt of jokes. In their work, cis society instead often is.”
Rox Samer is a media studies scholar, remix artist, and documentary filmmaker, and has published in Transgender Studies Quarterly, Jump Cut, Ada: A Journal of Gender, New Media, and Technology, and Feminist Media Histories. Samer was editor of Spectator 37.2 (Fall 2017), the first journal issue devoted to the study of transgender media, and the co-editor of “Spectatorship: Shifting Theories of Gender, Sexuality, and Media” (UT Press, 2017); their forthcoming book is “Lesbian Potentiality and Feminist Media in the 1970s.” Samer is developing a feature-length documentary, “Tip/Alli,” on the life, work, and influence of science fiction author James Tiptree, Jr. (Alice B. Sheldon). Samer joined the Clark University faculty in 2018.
About the panelists:
micha cárdenas, Ph.D., is assistant professor of art and design: games and playable media at the University of California, Santa Cruz, where she directs the Critical Realities Studio. Her forthcoming book, “Poetic Operations,” proposes algorithmic analysis to develop a trans of color poetics. Her solo and collaborative artworks have been presented in museums, galleries, and biennials, including the Thessaloniki Biennial in Greece, Arnolfini Gallery, De La Warr Pavilion in London, Museum of Modern Art in New York, the Centro Cultural del Bosque in Mexico City, the Zero1 Biennial, and the California Biennial. Spike Art Magazine has described her artwork as “a seminal milestone for artistic engagement in VR,” and io9.com named her as one of “7 bio-artists who are transforming the fabric of life itself.”
Zackary Drucker is an independent artist, cultural producer, and trans woman who breaks down the way we think about gender, sexuality, and seeing. She has performed and exhibited her photography and videos internationally in museums, galleries, and film festivals including the Whitney Biennial 2014, MoMA PS1, Hammer Museum, Art Gallery of Ontario, MCA San Diego, and SF MoMA, among others. Drucker is an Emmy-nominated producer for Amazon’s docuseries “This Is Me,” a producer on Amazon-s Golden Globe- and Emmy-winning “Transparent,” and co-director and executive producer of HBO’s new docuseries “The Lady and the Dale.”
Chris E. Vargas is a video maker and interdisciplinary artist currently based in Bellingham, Washington, whose work deploys humor and performance in conjunction with mainstream idioms to explore the complex ways that queer and trans people negotiate spaces for themselves within historical and institutional memory and popular culture. From 2008 to 2013, he and Greg Youmans made the web-based trans/cisgender sitcom “Falling In Love…with Chris and Greg.” Episodes of the series have been screened at numerous film festivals and art venues, including MIX NYC, SF Camerawork, and the Tate Modern. With Eric Stanley, Vargas co-directed “Homotopia” (2006) and “Criminal Queers” (2015), which have screened at Palais de Tokyo, LACE, Centre for Contemporary Arts Glasgow, and the New Museum, among other venues. Vargas is also the Executive Director of MOTHA, the Museum of Transgender Hirstory & Art.